A racegoer who filmed the moment a protester ran on to the course at the Epsom Derby has said the activist was “putting the horses in more danger” after crowds cheered their arrest.
Applause and cheering could be heard from onlookers at the racecourse as half a dozen security and police officers dragged the demonstrator off the track on Saturday afternoon, where 31 suspected Animal Rising activists were arrested.
Jack Cummins, from Cambridge, said the protester was in plain clothes “disguised as a normal racegoer” when they ran onto the course.
“The guy started running down the course from the hill side – to be fair to security and police they grabbed him pretty quickly and dragged him off,” the 23-year-old, who was stood in the front row, told the PA news agency.
“Pretty stupid of him to do it, protesters don’t understand how well-treated these horses are – they’re putting the horses in more danger than they’ll have ever been in by jumping into the track.”
In Mr Cummins’ video, onlookers could be heard shouting “get him off” while another appeared to say “Taser him”.
Animal Rising, who delayed the start of the Grand National by over 10 minutes in April, suggested the Epsom race should have been halted for the horses’ safety when the protester was on the course – describing the decision to continue as a “sickening display” of profit over animal welfare.
The group tweeted: “Despite The Jockey Club’s claim that the horses safety is paramount, they decided to start the race despite knowing that a protester was on the tracks.
“Another sickening display of profit (over) care for animals.”
Kerri Waters, a PhD researcher and Animal Rising activist at the race, said: “On Friday we saw (racehorse) Running Lion refuse to ride in the Oaks race, showing bravery and resistance to being used as an object and treated like property.
“That is exactly why we’ve attempted to disrupt the Derby and shone the spotlight on our broken relationship with other animals and the natural world.
“We’re a nation of animal lovers … it’s entirely possible for us to come together and build a better, kinder world.”